6 Tips for Doing Home Addition Projects the Right Way

By Julia Califano · June 29, 2023 · 8 minute read

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6 Tips for Doing Home Addition Projects the Right Way

Whether you’re thinking about a small bump-out or a full-blown two-story addition, increasing the size of your home can make it more functional, look more attractive, and increase its resale value. The trouble is, additions tend to be big, time-consuming, and expensive projects — and they can easily go wrong if you don’t plan them right. Read on to learn six key steps that will help you complete an addition on time, on budget, and with the least possible amount of stress.

How to get started with a home addition

Home additions can boost the value of the home while enhancing aesthetics and functionality. In fact, home additions and renovations can be among the most effective ways to increase your home’s value, and you can tailor the construction to fit your needs and wants.

To transform your home addition ideas into a completed project, there are a few steps to consider first:

•  Create a plan

•  Set a clear budget

•  Work with trusted professionals

•  Decide what parts of your home addition you can do yourself

•  Research and obtain permits

•  Fund your project

Create a Plan for Your Home Addition

Perhaps you’re adding an extra bedroom and bathroom to the back of your house so you have a place for guests to stay. As part of the process, you’ll need to first make sure that the addition will fit within your property lines. You’ll also want to check with your local government to see how closely codes in your city allow you to build next to someone else’s property.

While creating your home addition plan, also ensure that any construction will not interfere with utility lines or pipes, as well as whether the structural changes you’re considering will fit into the framing and foundation of your building.

As you design the addition, think about them from two perspectives: first, how these rooms will add value to your living space; then, how the construction will impact the outside of your home, architecturally speaking.

You’ll also need detailed plans drawn up by an architect or builder that describe the scope of the work and the materials needed. To consider how home additions may increase the value of your home, you may want to use an online home project return on investment (ROI) calculator.

One strategy for approaching home additions is to create your dream list, then have alternate choices in mind if your budget, material availability, or other external factors create a need to alter the project down the road. For example, you may love the look of marble flooring, but its price point might be higher than you’d initially estimated — or perhaps it doesn’t blend in with the rest of your house once you’ve started laying out the plans. Having a back-up plan — and one that’s cost-efficient at that — could help keep your budget in check.

The cost for an addition will depend on the size and type of addition, as well as where you live, but you can expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000 to $250,000 to add 1,000 square feet to a house.

Also keep in mind that if you want your addition to blend in with the rest of your house, you also may need to plan for improvements in existing rooms.

Set a Clear Budget for Your Home Addition

To come up with a budget for your home addition, it’s a good idea to obtain bids from three different contractors, adding in 15% to 20% to the overall project price given by the contractor to cover unforeseen costs.

If the ballpark figure is too high and doesn’t align with your budget, then you might want to look at alternative choices for materials that will still give you the general renovation you desire. You could also scale back on your plans or save some of the more costly home addition projects for the future when your budget allows.

If you intend to work with a specific contractor, then your chosen company may be able to help you find lower-cost options — for example, replacing granite countertops with laminate ones — and offer creative solutions gleaned from years of industry experience. Or, you may want to look at reducing the scope of your project to a smaller addition or even asking the contractor for competitive pricing for the off-season.

Work with Trusted Professionals

Whether you do some of the home addition work yourself or plan to have the professionals build the entire addition, it’s crucial that you hire the right contractor for your needs. Tips for working with contractors include:

•  Get three to six bids, then research companies that seem like good matches. You can check for information about these contractors at LinkedIn, Angie’s List, and the Better Business Bureau . Have any complaints been filed at your state’s contractor board? (You can find state-by-state licensing requirements for contractors here .)

  For contractors who interest you, you may want to reach out to references they provide for personal experiences from past clients.

•  Be wary of suspiciously low bids. If a quote comes in significantly lower than that of the other contractors who bid your home addition project, it’s possible that the contractor did not understand exactly what you want; this can lead to significant problems if you hire this company without clarifying specifics.

•  Hire a contractor who you think you can work well with, but don’t base your decision largely on emotion.

Decide What Parts of Your Home Addition You Can Do Yourself

Say the home addition ideas you have are necessary to solve space problems, perhaps you’re having a baby, or maybe your mother is moving in with you — but you’ve got to find a way to contain the costs of the addition. In this case, it might make sense to figure out what you can do yourself.

If you’ve got the experience needed to do the demo work safely without damaging load-bearing walls, electrical wires, and the like, this can save you some money on labor. If you’ve got professional-level skills in plumbing or drywall, you might talk to your contractor about taking on those tasks yourself and further reducing the cost of labor. Or you can attempt to do the finish work, such as sanding walls, painting, and general cleanup.

Research & Obtain Permitting Requirements

Unfortunately, a home addition isn’t as simple as deciding what you want to do, saving up, then paying for the work. You also need to make sure your home is appropriately zoned for the home addition or remodel. Depending on the scope of the project, you may or may not need a permit.

For example, if you want to build a deck in some states, you need a permit if you intend for it to be more than 30 inches off the ground. Getting to know your local codes can help surmount significant hurdles as the project unfolds, which often will save time and money for homeowners.

Strategically Fund Your Project

To find materials for your home addition on a budget, you could shop at stores like a Habitat for Humanity ReStore , attend auctions, or explore similar options to find salvaged materials. If you’re employing a contractor, however, you’ll want to make sure they are willing to work with recycled materials and ones that may not be standard size.

For a higher-priced project, it might be tempting to use credit cards to pay for expenses. If you’re doing this to maintain a record of your spending or to take advantage of credit card reward points, this can be a good strategy provided you can pay off the balance quickly, ideally within a single billing cycle.

But when you can’t pay off the balances, it can be easy to get caught up in a spiral of debt, and credit card debt is especially challenging. Why?

Credit card interest rates are notoriously high. What’s more, credit card companies typically compound daily, which means they calculate the interest you owe daily and add that to the card’s balance. You then pay interest on your balance, plus any accrued interest, until you pay your balance off in full.

Getting a Home Improvement Loan for Your Home Addition

If you don’t have enough cash to pay for your addition in full and up front, and don’t want to run up credit card debt, you might consider getting a home improvement loan. This is essentially an unsecured personal loan that is used for home upgrades and renovations. Unlike a home equity loan or line of credit, you don’t need to have any equity built up in your home, or use your home as collateral for the loan.

With a home improvement loan, you receive a lump sum up front which you can use to pay for your addition; you then repay the loan over a set term, often five to seven years, with regular monthly payments. Interest rates are typically fixed.

The Takeaway

A home addition can increase the value of your property while also allowing you to retrofit your house to your current lifestyle. There are many factors that figure into a big decision like a renovation, and it’s important to consider it from as many angles as possible.

If you’re interested in getting a loan to finance your home addition project, SoFi could help. SoFi’s home improvement loans offer competitive, fixed rates and a variety of terms. Checking your rate won’t affect your credit score, and it takes just one minute.

See if a home improvement loan from SoFi is right for you.

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